Part of SFFILM Festival
Ottinger’s latest film begins from the perspective of autobiography. It describes her experiences as a young artist living in Paris in the 1960s, when she came into contact with the intellectual and artistic community surrounding Fritz Picard’s antiquarian bookshop, Librairie Calligrammes, and experienced the breadth of world cinema as a denizen of the Cinémathèque Française. The film widens into a portrait of Paris in that historical moment — a time capsule of social awakening in the aftermath of the Algerian War of Independence and in the wake of student protests against the Vietnam War. This extraordinarily beautiful work bears Ottinger’s signature in its attention to place, historical artifact, and intellectual firmament.
“Paris Calligrammes isn’t just about social movements. It’s also Ottinger as flâneuse, strolling the teeming byways of Les Halles at night, listening to Barbara in the nightclubs, attending screenings at the Cinémathèque Française, sitting in on lectures by Claude Lévi-Strauss. The documentary captures the zeitgeist as experienced by a young woman eager to soak up the cultural riches around her, which she then distilled through her own sensibility to create paintings reflecting the era’s upheavals.” –Jay Weissberg, Variety
Ulrike Ottinger transitioned from fine arts – principally painting and photography – to filmmaking in the early 1970s and has since established herself as a director, writer, producer, and cinematographer. Among her films are Laocoon & Sons (1975), The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press (1984), Joan of Arc of Mongolia (1989), Exile Shanghai (1997), Prater (2007), and Under Snow (2011). In 2012, the Berlin International Film Festival awarded her a Special Teddy award.